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Interview by Amanda Astramowicz
When did your rock adventure begin?
Larry: Well, when I was in high school in Suffolk, one day I heard Jimi Hendrix on the radio and that was it. I was like, wow. Though my original instrument was the trumpet because there were no guitar teachers, so I started by playing classical music on the trumpet… I didn’t really think about guitar until I heard Hendrix's 'Hey Joe'.
When did you finally get your first guitar?
Larry: Well I did a paper round to buy my first guitar. I was about 13 at the time. My folks were like, no you’re not having a guitar, you can play piano if you want to, but no guitar. So that’s why I started doing the paper round, so I could get it for myself.
Do you remember which guitar it was?
Larry: It was a Spanish style guitar with steel strings, very high action, almost impossible to play. That was the first one… There was nobody to give me lessons, nobody was teaching rock guitar or blues guitar lessons. So, I would go get the vinyl singles and basically learn to play just by listening to them over and over again, moving the needle back and fourth… There were obviously no CDs or cassettes at the time.
When did you play your first show?
Larry: I think it was ’68. We used to play at a local blues club. I can’t remember who was in my first band, just some friends from school who were also just playing a bit. We would only just play covers, or – attempt to play them as best as we could. My first professional performance was probably in ’72, I was about 18. In the group we were Simon, Graham and Paul… I remember that… But I can’t remember what we were called, we kept changing it almost every gig! [ha, ha].
How would you describe your music style?
Larry: It’s blues-rock. Some comparisons we’ve had are Gary Moore, Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughan, that sort of style, with a bit of Hendrix as well.
Unfinished Business, who are they?
Larry: Originally it was me and an Irish guy, Jimmy, in England, we were playing in the early 2000’s. I was living here, and I was going back and fourth playing some gigs, and I organised a few here in Barcelona… Well let’s just say there were a few complications with the bass player Gordon’s, passport, and him and Jimmy never made it over here. That left me here with no band and concerts booked, so I spoke to a few guys here in Barcelona that were interested in playing. So now its, myself, Xavi Tomás, who is catalan, and Chriss Kruger, and he’s Norwegian. But Xavi, the drummer, has been with me the whole time, he’s my permanent drummer.
Where did you meet Xavi?
Larry: I met him at a jam session, and when the problem came up, I asked him if he wanted to do something and he said yeah! Xavi has been with me for 5 years now, whereas Chris is fairly new.
What will you play at the Hard Rock Cafe on March 13th?
Larry: We’re going to play a lot of covers that people know, because its that sort of audience, but they will be our version of the songs, you know, they are not exact replicas at all. It kind of also varies how the audience reacts as well. We will also be playing some of our originals.
How is it that you’re half American, half British?
Larry: Well, my dad's American and my mum’s English. When I was a baby, I was six months old, we moved from the UK to Long Beach, California, and stayed there until I was 4 and a half. We came back to England, and of course, having lived in America I had an American accent but when I moved back I lost it very quickly going to school in the UK. But I have an American accent when I sing, funny enough! It’s my natural voice, i guess!
What was your next step, musically?
Larry: So back in England we were playing around clubs in the Midlands, playing Hendrix covers and some original stuff as well. I turned down a couple bands that actually ended up with record deals, so I was a bit like, uhhh…. Yeah, that was about ’77 when punk was coming in, and I wasn’t really into playing punk.
What happened after that?
Larry: Well, so then I started working more as a guitar tech, looking after the back line, the equipment for people like Michael Schenker. And I played guitar with him a bit too, I was kind of like the invisible guitar player.
Did you ever go back to the states?
Larry: In 1980 I moved back to California, played a bit with Paul Raymond, from UFO, and hung out with David Lee Roth.. some insane parties, the whole Hollywood scene up there. I went to the guitar institute down there for a semester, very hard work, everybody was trying to be like Eddie Van Halen. He was starting to get big at that time.
So you toured with bands like Culture Club?
Larry: Yeah, I did a tour with Culture Club and a tour with Wham. It was a funny tour, it was just like these 2 young kids. It was ’84, I was about 30. I came back to England in early ’84 and caught up with a lot of people…. Turned down a gig a with Motorhead. [chuckles]
Larry: Well, in 1990 before I went to the states I played with Brian Robertson who was in Thin Lizzy, and Jimmy Bain who was the bass player from Rainbow, and a group called Wild Horses. And they were so off their heads all the time, on drugs and alcohol. It was like 11 o’clock in the morning they were wrecked, and it was as if I was babysitting them all the time. Then, Robbo was playing with Motörhead and he was trying to get me to join… Well you see it just wasn’t the lifestyle I wanted. Like, serious amounts of drug abuse.
Do you have a family?
Larry: Well, I have some ex-wives… [chuckles] and four children who live in England.
Why did you move to Barcelona?
Larry: I really considered moving back to California, and well, when I ended up moving here it was 2005 and the kids were quite young, so I thought, if I moved back to California I wouldn’t be able to visit very often, since it’s a long and expensive trip, whereas living in Spain, you’re connected to the whole European gig circuit and I can go back to visit regularly.
But why Spain?
Larry: After I split up with my second wife, I had a girlfriend and a friend of her mother’s had a place down near Alicante and I thought it would be a nice, different lifestyle to London. Then that relationship finished and I ended up getting a Spanish girlfriend that lived in Barcelona and I came here I thought, wow! It’s so cool!
What do you think of the Barcelona live music scene?
Larry: It sucks at the moment. All the problems with the Ajuntament, the police and licenses, it’s causing a lot of problems with the smaller places, you know. And there doesn’t seem to be a sort of answer for it. Places seem to have live music for a bit and then the police come and tell them to stop. And I think [the problem] is not the noise that’s coming from the inside, it’s the noise from the people on the street who are smoking… and that’s the product of the ‘no smoking inside’ laws.
Are you planning on staying in Barcelona?
Larry: Oh yea, I love it. I love the food here. I love seafood. Though, it’s been 8 and a half years now and my Spanish is rubbish, I must admit! [chuckles] My girlfriend, who is Catalan, speaks English too!
Thank you Larry, it was a pleasure chatting with you.
Larry: Thank you!
Click here to see Larry's facebook fan page.
Check out Unfinished Business here.
He's also part of another band that plays the old style blues in and around the Toulouse area of France, click here.